1. US Senators Republican Jeff Flake (left, striped tie) and Democrat Tom Udall (right, pink tie) walking into news briefing
2. Cameraman filming
3. Flake and Udall taking seats for news conference
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Jeff Flake, Republican from Arizona:
"I do feel we're closer there. One because of what Alan Gross has said himself, this is going to end one way or another. We've gone on five years, I think any benefit that the Cuban government may have seen, has to have evaporated by now in that regard. But there's also some other things that have been changing over the past little while, the programme that brought Alan Gross here, and similar programs that have been run by USAID, there's been a realisation there, and a statement that there won't be covert programmes run out of AID any more, and that's a good thing."
5. Cameraman filming
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Senator Tom Udall, Democrat from New Mexico:
"The important thing for you to know about our visit with him is that he really wants to go home."
Two US senators expressed optimism on Tuesday that Cuba will free imprisoned American government contractor Alan Gross.
Senators Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, and Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, said they met with Gross for about two hours during a trip that included meetings with Cuban officials.
Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up unauthorised Internet networks for the island's Jewish community while he was on a contract with the US Agency for International Development, a government entity.
Havana considers such programmes to be an affront to its sovereignty and sentenced him to 15 years for crimes against the state.
Flake also cited as cause for optimism a report by The Associated Press on Monday that USAID is preparing internal rules that would effectively end risky undercover work in hostile countries.
The new policy follows an investigation by The AP this year into work by the development agency, which set up a Twitter-like social network in Cuba and secretly sought to recruit a new generation of dissidents on the island while hiding ties to the US government.
USAID has denied the Cuba programmes constituted covert action.
Cuba has said repeatedly it wants to negotiate with the US over the fate of Gross as well as three Cuban agents who are imprisoned in the US on charges including espionage.